Apache AH-64E

British Army’s new Apache helicopters with advanced targeting begin flight tests

Image credit: pa

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) is flight-testing a new fleet of 50 Apache AH-64E helicopters that are capable of detecting up to 256 potential targets at once.

Wattisham Flying Station in Suffolk has taken delivery of 14 of the new aircraft from Boeing, with 36 more due to arrive by the summer of 2024.

The British Army is currently testing them, with a booster to aerial capability anticipated early next year when they enter operational capability.

They are able to detect 256 potential targets at once, prioritising the most urgent threats within seconds, up to a range of 16km away.

The AH-64E is the most advanced variant of the Apache. It is designed and equipped with an open systems architecture, including the latest communications, navigation, sensor and weapon systems.

It also features advanced digital connectivity, a Joint Tactical Information Distribution System, capability to control unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and new composite main rotor blades.

The MOD has signed a £287m Long Term Training and Support Services contract with Boeing, which will work closely with the British Army to provide maintenance and engineering support, supply chain and logistics management at Wattisham.

It has also provided two Longbow Crew Trainer simulation devices for the E model that will help those on the frontline get to grips with the aircraft. The first was declared “ready for training” at the end of 2020 and the second is undergoing testing and installation. The third and final is scheduled to be delivered in 2022.

Speaking at Wattisham Flying Station, the minster for defence procurement, Jeremy Quin MP, said: “There can be no doubt these impressive Apache helicopters will help the Army sustain its battle-winning capabilities in future operations.

“In addition to its vital defence purpose, this cutting-edge technology will create and support hundreds of UK jobs.”

Anna Keeling, managing director of Boeing Defence UK, said: “We are proud to deliver the necessary support needed to ensure mission readiness and optimise the full capability of the AH-64E Apache fleet, which will provide a significant uplift in capability to the British Army.

“The new Apaches join the Poseidon fleet at RAF Lossiemouth, the Wedgetail modification work in Birmingham, Chinooks undergoing major upgrades across Hampshire, and the C-17s at RAF Brize Norton underpinning the UK’s strategic airlift capability – all Boeing platforms, serving the UK’s armed forces and providing economic benefits up and down the country.”

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